Tag Archives: Saints

20 up for Saints!

We are one week away from the new Premier League season, the 27th of it’s kind since the financial revolution surrounding the ‘people’s’ game changed football forever.

It also happens to be the 20th Premier League campaign for Southampton Football Club. An achievement to be proud of for a club that has never been level in terms of resources with the giants of the era. Even more so when you realise that of the previous 19 campaigns, 7 have resulted in top 10 finishes. A club once synonymous with relegation battles actually has more mid to top half Premier League league finishes. Our average league position in the Premier League is 12.8th which given the restrictions placed on us by the Dell, the perennial harvesting of our best talent,  the infliction of messrs Branfoot, Wigley, Gray, Redknapp, Pellegrino and Puel, a financial meltdown and a self inflicted long term hiatus can truly be seen as a decent return.

In that time we’ve provided one of the most entertaining players ever to grace the modern game who dominated the goal of the season competition, continuously produced exciting young British talent who have become mainstays in the best league in the world, masterminded accumulator busting shocks, pulled off breathtaking great escapes in the face of impossible odds, won 8-0, consistently taken advantage of Liverpool’s desperation for a title, gambled on players and managers others wouldn’t, #greykitgate, and of course, gave the world the Ali Dia affair and mocked ourselves ever since.

Say what you like about Saints, but the Premier League is always richer with us in it than without. Always a conundrum, constantly written off, proudly representing South of London in the top flight.

The ‘Premier’ club on the South Coast in name and stature. How will the 20th Premier League campaign go? Who knows? With Saints we could easily be pushing for 7th or praying for 17th. The one thing that can be guaranteed, is that with the exception of 2016/17, it will never be boring.

Strap in & keep the faith!

THE WINNERS OF THE 2017/18 ALI’S! THE RESULTS ARE IN!

This is always one of the most fun and interesting times of the year for me. Reading through the voting forms is always a funny experience, and captures the melancholy/terrace humour of being a Saints fan perfectly.

Again, the response has been great, so thank you to everybody who took the time, especially after a torrid season.

Everyone associated with Saints covets one of these precious trophies*:-

And now we find out who has go their hands on one!

Here are YOUR winners…

Player of the Year

This was calculated like so:- Each player got 2 points for a vote as winner and one point for a vote as runner up. Here are all those that received votes and their points percentage.

Scored points:- Nobody, Sam McQueen, Mario Lemina, Olufela Olomola. Jan Bednerak, Shane Long, Cedric, Manolo Gabbiadini, Wesley Hoedt, Les Reed, Fraser Forster, Mauricio Pellegrino, U15’s kid & The Kitman (<1%), Oriol Romeu, Sofiane Boufal & Jeremy Pied (1%), Ryan Bertrand, Matt Targett, Charlie Austin & Jack Stephens (2%), James Ward-Prowse (5%), Dusan Tadic (6%)

3rd Place:- Maya Yoshida (7%)

2nd Place:- Pierre Emile Høijbjerg (18%)

And the winner is…..with a dominant 46% of the points with his impressive displays in the run in of the season….

Most Improved Player

Received Votes:- Nathan Redmond & Fraser Forster (1%), Matt Targett & Maya Yoshida (3%), James Ward-Prowse (5%), Jack Stephens (8%)

3rd Place:- Alex McCarthy (15%)

2nd Place:- Jan Bednarek (17%)

And the winner is…..

Young Player of the Year

Received Votes:- Enzo Robise, Stuart Taylor, Did we play any kids?, James Ward-Prowse, Sam McQueen & Jake Vokins (2%), Michael Obafemi (4%), Matt Targett (5%),  Pierre Emile Høijbjerg (8%)

3rd Place:- Jan Bednarek (15%)

2nd Place:- Jack Stephens (21%)

And the winner is….

Unsung Hero

Received Votes:- Manolo Gabbiadini, David in Sweden, Whoever got rid of ‘My Way’, Jack Stephens, Jeremy Pied & Mauricio Pellegrino (1%), Nathan Redmond, Alex McCarthy, Dusan Tadic, Forbsey & Kelvin Davis (3%), Stuart Taylor, Oriol Romeu, James Ward-Prowse, Jan Bednarek, Ryan Bertrand & Shane Long (4%), The Fans (7%)

3rd Place:- Cedric (9%)

2nd Place:- Pierre Emile Høijbjerg (14%)

And the winner is…..

Signing of the Season

Received Votes:- Sure for Men (2%), Wesley Hoedt, Guido Carrillo & All shit (3%), Quincy Promes (10%)

3rd Place:- Jan Bednarek (12%)

2nd Place:- Mark Hughes (30%)

And the winner is…..

Performance of the Season (Team or Individual)

Received Votes:- Gabbiadini v Swans (A), Boufal v WBA (H), van Dijk v Leicester (H), Team v Fulham (A), Team 1st 60 v Chelsea (H), Long v Swans (A) & Media Team Taylor Announcement (1%), McCarthy v Bournemouth (H) & Team v Bournemouth (H) (7%), Lemina v Palace (A) (10%)

3rd Place:- Tadic v Bournemouth (H) (12%)

2nd Place:- Team v Everton (H) (14%)

And the winner is…….Team v Swansea (A)

Goal of the Season

Received Votes:- Nathan Redmond & We scored? (1%), Boufal v West Ham (3%), Yoshida v Stoke (4%)

3rd Place:- Lemina v WBA (9%)

2nd Place:- Gabbiadini v Swansea (17%)

And the winner is…..for that ridiculous solo run and finish v WBA….

Comedy Moment sponsored by Marriott Hotels

Received Votes:- Bournemouth getting stage fright at St. Mary’s. Again., Pompey Owner publicly praising Gareth Bale’s South Coast development, Lemina’s air shot, Mark Hughes saying how nice the stay in Cardiff was, Ralph Krueger’s five pledges, Champion’s League final schadenfreude, Carrillo calling Pellegrino ‘The Master’, Summer Scouse meltdown over van Dijk, Liverpool’s public apology, Scoring four against Everton, Alonso’s challenge on Long, Mark Hughes marching the team to the Liberty, WBA Taxi chants, Swansea Ball Boy, There were three teams worse than us, Tadic striptease, Ralph Krueger saying Pellegrino is the perfect coach, Boufal’s sulk & Austin accepting McCarthy’s man of the match award (1%), Ralph Krueger’s interviews, Tadic’s celebration at 5-2 down, All the injury time goals conceded, The Watford handball & Puel beating us 4-1 (2%), Hoedt’s defending, Pellegrino’s claim about playing attacking football, Bertrand time wasting v Bournemouth & Signing Carrillo (4%), WBA defending v Boufal (7%)

3rd Place:- Hiring Pellegrino (8%)

2nd Place:- Swansea’s failed sabotage attempts (13%)

And the winner is….Pierre Emile Høijbjerg kicking Jack Stephens in the groin during his goal celebration at Wigan!

Best Opposition Team

Received Voted:- West Ham, Referees & Southampton A (2%), Watford (3%), Leicester (4%), Chelsea (7%)

3rd Place:- Spurs (11%)

2nd Place (becoming a habit):- Liverpool (22%)

And the winners are…..The Champions.

Best Opposition Player

Received Votes:- John Moss, David de Gea, N’Golo Kante, Kenedy, Officials, Jack Cork & Mike Dean (1%), Raheem Sterling (3%), Leroy Sane, Riyad Mahrez & Harry Kane (4%), Eden Hazard (12%)

3rd Place:- Mo Salah (17%)

2nd Place:- Kevin de Bruyne (20%)

And the winner is…..

Best Opposition Fans

Received Votes:- Swansea & Liverpool (1%), Watford, WBA, Chelsea & Newcastle (3%), Wigan & Burnley (5%), Bournemouth (7%), Manchester United & Manchester City (8%)

3rd Place:- Leicester City (12%)

2nd Place:- Crystal Palace (16%)

And the winners are……Huddersfield Town!

Best Saints Related Tweeter

Received Votes:- Official Club Account, Shirley Mush, Nobody, Yershida, Lucy Highnett, TalkSaints, Swansea, ArchersRoadEnd, OilySailor, chrs00, Max Sopel, Rauschgiftsucht, benstanners, Liam Coward, Marriott Hotels, Billy Fingers (1%), DavidC00k, Tadic, Sam Dobson, Luke Osman, Simon Peach & SFC_Dellivery (3%) SaintsinFrance & crstig (6%)

3rd Place:- @mattletiss7 (12%)

2nd Place:- @AdamBlackmore (14%)

And the winner is……@L1minus10

Usually that would be the end of the Ali’s, but I realised today that i had forgotten to award the Ali Dia services to Southampton Award this year to mark the site’s 8th birthday. So to that end here is your winner (explanations not really necessary):-

The 2018 Ali Dia Services to Southampton Award goes to……

Gareth Bale.

So that concludes this season’s Ali’s! Congratulations and thanks to everyone who voted and massive congratulations to all the winners!.A big thank you to Alistair Downs for the Photoshop wizardry! Keep the faith!

For previous years awards results see here:- http://georgeweahscousin.com/awards-history/

Chris

*- There is no actual physical trophy. Soz.

 

2017/18 GWC.COM END OF SEASON AWARDS!

A difficult season for Saints, another decent cup run, but an undeniably disastrous league campaign that was almost fatal. But. It’s that time of year again and I have made the decision to do the awards anyway, if only due to the tough competition for comedy moment!

Forget the ‘official awards’  now it’s time for the only ones the real fans have any interest in! The Ali’s.

Who has stood out? Who will win one of these coveted trophies?

You decide.

If you want to have your say on who should be honoured, just fill out the following form, all votes will be anonymous and collated with the winners revealed at the end of the season!

For the ‘Player of the Year’ award, a winner vote get’s the player 2 points. A runner up vote gets them 1 point. The player with the highest combined total will get the ‘Ali’.

For previous winners see here:- Awards History

* – There is no actual physical trophy.

Chris

Be in that number with a Saints Legend!

Ever fancied living out your dreams? Walking out on to the hallowed turf at the home of football perhaps? Playing the killer pass that allows Brett Ormerod to steer home? Getting on the end of a Jason Dodd cross? Maybe you’d like to be on the receiving end of a Benali tackle? Or simply fancy the perfect view of Le Tissier’s grace?

Well now you can, and what’s more, with the help of this site you can get 5% off of the cost of doing so!

Play at St Mary’s with Saints legends!

Matt Le Tissier, Jason Dodd, Francis Benali and Brett Ormerod will be lacing up their boots once again to take to the St Mary’s pitch for a one-off four team tournament, and you could be playing alongside them!

Play With A Legend, the events company which brings you closer to your footballing heroes, is running the event for the third year at St Mary’s. The organisation was co-founded by Perry Groves, best known for his time at Arsenal (and Saints too of course!), who wanted to give fans the chance to play on pitch with their favourite ex-players.

The four team tournament will take place on 14th May from 6pm, on the pitch at St. Mary’s where you can get either 45 or 90 minutes of action, plus your own personalised kit, enjoy post-match drinks with the legends and have your photo taken. Friends and family are invited to purchase audience tickets to cheer you on from the stands too.

Check out highlights from last year:
To find out more and book your place ‘in that number’ go here:- https://www.playwithalegend.com/southampton-2018

Don’t forget to use the code ‘WEAH’ at checkout for 5% off!

Have Saints found pragmatism too late? Or will Hughes Spark them into life?

So, the Saints board finally caught up with the rest of us and lost patience with the Argentine Branfoot and gave him his marching orders (#youmarchon) after the frankly diabolical display at Newcastle. Too little too late? Perhaps, but the last couple of days has felt like a fresh start, and for the first time in a long time there would appear to be hope.

Now he is gone, I wish Mr. Pellegrino no ill will, seems like a (too) nice bloke, just wildly out of his depth. I did ‘celebrate’ his sacking though, and I feel no guilt in doing so. This isn’t a bloke on £15k a year who has just been made redundant from the local factory as the result of some Tory inflicted austerity scheme, who now has to worry about how he pays his rent and feed his kids. This is a highly paid man (no doubt already comfortably off from his playing career) who showed incompetence from day one. Worse than that, he didn’t learn and was loyal to the end to his turgid style and failing system. What’s more he didn’t even have the decency to resign when it was plain to see he was taking us down. He will have received a handsome pay off for his trouble and will now be having a lovely holiday in a luxurious resort. With respect Mauricio, I wish you luck in your future endeavours, but I am glad you were fired, please don’t ever darken our door again.

This current Saints board had never been more under pressure. They left the sacking of el confundido far too late, he should have gone after the Leicester debacle and in not removing him sooner have left us staring into the abyss with a very difficult run in. This is self inflicted pressure, and meant the job of replacing him was not an easy one. You could argue the logic behind the appointments of both Pellegrino and Claude Puel, both were employed in pre-season, and both looked like long term options, sadly both failed. Employing someone with 8 games to save the season is a different kettle of fish altogether. Premier League experience is absolutely essential, we aren’t in a position to be letting someone learn as they go, and in Mark Hughes we got the best available.

While Pellegrino floundered on the touchline, it cannot escape attention that the players were not performing to their ability, and that may have been a question of motivation. What we have now in Hughes is someone who knows this league, knows how to organise a team and won’t accept dropping standards of his squad.

To those who I’ve seen complaining about the appointment, I always ask the same question? Who would you have brought in? You can rule out the currently employed. Why would they risk it, when they can wait until the end of the season and see if Saints are still interested, and more importantly what division they are in?

That leaves the unemployed, and risking someone without experience of the Premier League would be one risk too far. The current Saints board are 1 for 2 when it comes to appointing foreign first timers, 1 for 3 would be relegation and their own positions untenable.

Hughes’ record in the Premier League is decent, there is no doubt about that, and despite a poor spell at car crash club QPR and this season with Stoke he would firmly be considered a middle tier manager, and here’s a newsflash. We aren’t a middle tier club at the moment, we are lower tier and in danger of being out of the top flight.  Lest we forget, that in removing Hughes, Stoke have ended up with Paul Lambert. A fate worse than death in my opinion. The point is right now we don’t have a ‘project’ to sell to a fashionable foreign manager like we have had in the past, we are in a desperate situation. We should be grateful Hughes has put his reputation (never having been relegated) on the line for us.

Yesterday’s press conference gave everyone a lift. A football man, talking a good game and not the riddle messr’s Puel and Pellegrino gave us. We need grit and we need fight from our squad, they have the talent. Hughes is the man to get it.

It’s time for the fans to stop the infighting and the ‘woe is me’ attitude to go. This is what being a Saints fan is all about. We had it far to easy for far too long and we got comfortable and we got entitled and we got lazy. On Sunday Mark Hughes will start his reign with a trip to league one Wigan and the potential to take us to an FA Cup Semi-Final and as we know from last season once you get a semi anything can happen. Then it is 8 cup finals.

Get behind the manager, get behind the team and as always keep the faith.

With apologies to Madonna…

Steve Wigley and Poortvliet
Mark Wotte and Dave Bassett
Alan Pardew, Wilkins Dean
On the cover of a cheap fanzine.

Stuart Gray; Puel, Claude
Picture of a coaching fraud.
Paul Sturrock and Souness.
Pellegrino, what a mess.

They had no style, had no grace,
Harry Redknapp twitchy face.
Gorman, Wise, Sturrock too.
Ian Branfoot we hate you.

Manager’s without a clue.
Fellows that weren’t in the mood.
Don’t just stand there let’s get to it
Strike the pose there’s nothing to it.

Coach.

The Weekly Rannt: Ex Infatuations

Yesterday Saints beat Watford 1-0. Perhaps not the most inspiring or dominating victory, but a victory nonetheless, and passageway into the 5th round of the FA Cup.

I opened up Twitter this morning to see what the assembled masses had made of our performance, the manager’s tactical decisions, maybe even an honest appraisal of the striker that was promised and how he will save our season.

But no. The first so many tweets I saw were all melancholy teenage angst surrounding the performance of Jay Rodriguez for West Brom. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m sure it was an impressive showing from the former Saints forward,  as he bagged a brace and duly put a van Dijk inspired (snigger) Liverpool defence to the sword and out of the cup, but should it be the primary focus of the Southampton support?

It’s an odd phenomenon amongst our fanbase, especially the social media wing of it that certain players are elevated to the status of deity when they move on.

If you read the words of our fans on twitter today, with no previous knowledge of Rodriguez and his time with Saints you would form the impression that he had left the club against it’s wishes on the back of a goalscoring season the likes of which could barely be believed. The reality of course is that he never looked the same after his horrific injury against Man City and scored just five league goals in the three and a bit years that followed it.

It’s called Jack Cork syndrome. Cork, like Rodriguez was a good player for Saints and a decent servant, but as the club moved on in terms of the quality of player it attracted his playing time reduced and at what was the right time for both him and the club he was moved on. Both Cork & Rodriguez went to clubs where they were more likely to play and neither pulled up any trees. Yet, every time they put in a decent shift for their new clubs, the Saints fans unite in their bemoaning of ‘the one that got away’ and how shortsighted the club were in letting them go.

The fact is the club have improved on both those players. Several times.

If you stop being blinkered and analysing one off games you will see that they aren’t actually being consistently brilliant for their new clubs either and there was a reason Saints let them go. Despite a considerably higher amount of game time for West Brom, Jay Rod has scored just four league goals for the Baggies, Austin has six for Saints in a third of the minutes on the pitch!

I don’t have an issue with still liking those players, or appreciating what they did in their time at the club, but do we need the constant outpouring of support every time they have a good game? We don’t put as much energy into supporting the players that are currently at the club!

I don’t know what it is about them that makes them so universally popular still, perhaps it is because they are clean cut young English lads? I don’t know. But the time for them to go was right.

Move on. They have.

Keep the faith.

 

Hello darkness, my old friend

Saints are 18th in the Premier League with fourteen games to go.

‘Hello darkness, my old friend,
I’ve come to talk with you again.’

We’ve been here before. We hoped we’d never be here again, but the ever growing competitive nature of the Premier League means that for a number of reasons 2017/18 is one that will not sit comfortably in the memory whatever the outcome, unlikely FA Cup win aside.

Before I proceed I want to make my position clear. Were I in an executive position on the board of Southampton Football club Mauricio Pellegrino would be out of a job by now, in fact he’d have gone immediately after the frankly embarrassing Leicester thumping at St. Mary’s. Having said that I am prepared to accept that while his tactical naivety is the overwhelming factor in our current decline, it isn’t the only variable that has seen us slip into a relegation battle like it’s the mid-90’s.

But let’s start with the manager. Like it or not, the manager’s one and only remit really is to get results and he isn’t doing that. Saints have a habit of starting games well, which suggests he isn’t so tactically unaware, the problem seems to come once we are in front. His immediate thought process seems to be to stop what was working and settle for what we have. Sitting back and inviting pressure has only gone one way so far, three points have rapidly evaporated.

Great goal Sofiane, but we did discuss holding out for a point. So…

My other concern on the manager is his response to changes by the opposition or lack thereof. The Watford game is a perfect example of this. Saints were two goals to the good and comfortable against a side themselves in disarray, but their introduction of Troy Deeney changed the dynamic and Saints were on the back foot. We didn’t react (one like for like sub in the 63rd minute) and although there was a huge element of fortune in the Hornet’s equaliser, it had been coming and their reading of the situation meant they gained a point, our misunderstanding of it meant we dropped two.

We have won just four league games all season, and barring an element of fortune against West Ham, a Forster masterclass at Selhurst Park and a moment of individual Boufal brilliance it could so easily be one. I know it’s not as simple as that, and we could analyse our draws and defeats and make a case for where we deserved more, but the fact of the matter is, our only truly convincing league win this season was a home thrashing of Everton, who themselves were in free-fall (something they have rectified with a new manager).

But. I think we have to accept that the manager isn’t going, if there was any chance he was under scrutiny by the board then surely they’d have made their move by now? So assuming it isn’t coming then we have to look at what else is going wrong.

I’ve seen many question the qualities of the squad, but to me this is poppycock and a compelling argument as to why the manager has failed. This is not a bottom three squad. No way. I will argue that with anyone. We have a better and more talented group of players than 5 or 6 clubs currently above us in the league. Is it as strong as it was in previous seasons, no I don’t think it is, but departures have weakened it, not destroyed it completely.

We do have an issue with a lack of depth. An injury to Charlie Austin (given his history, something that shouldn’t have taken anyone by surprise) and our already lacking goals scored column becomes almost non-existent. A caveat to this though is that we do have a talented striker not getting game time? If we go down with Manolo Gabbiadini as unused sub we’ll be a laughing stock.

The same could be said for Mario Lemina. The lad looks like a real talent yet seems to be out of favour, if you add Sofiane Boufal to the mix that is three of our better players getting splinters.

The mis-use of Steven Davis is frustrating to see also. For me Davis is a consistently good performer in a Saints shirt, if he is played as part of the support three. He isn’t a defensive midfielder, and always plays poorly when asked to be one. The fact that he has been used there when Romeu, Lemina and Hojbjerg are available is baffling to say the least.

Decent. Team.

Football isn’t rocket science. Play your best players, and in the position they are most suited to play.

The biggest factor and the one that is effecting everybody is ‘the fear’.

‘And the vision that was planted in my brain,
Still remains.’

There is a trepidation amongst the players, coaching staff and fans alike that is worrying to say the least, and the capitulations from winning positions reek of 2004/05 and the last time we dropped out of the top flight.

The atmosphere on and off the pitch is the same now as it was then. As most of you will know my physical presence at games is limited now due to my living abroad, but I did have the ‘pleasure’ of being at the Huddersfield game. Again Saints led and looked comfortable, but the Terriers equaliser was met with ‘the fear’, and we might consider ourselves lucky to have come away with a point. Immediately the players heads dropped and the attitude of the crowd changed, like the outcome was now a foregone conclusion.

Overcoming ‘the fear’ will be key to our survival this season, and that is where the crowd plays it’s part. We are Southampton, this isn’t our first relegation battle. We have to draw on that experience, and those of us who, like me, were there for the regular anxiety of the 90’s will tell you that one of the reasons we were very good at getting out of it was the backing of the crowd.

Nobody wanted to come to the Dell in that situation because the crowd backed it’s players and got on top of the opposition and we have to make sure St. Mary’s is the same. Especially when we entertain those around us. It’s all very well getting up for Spurs, but just like the players, we as fans have to take the same attitude into games against Brighton etc.

And please. Get off Nathan Redmond’s back. A promising player who was recognised by England looks a shell of his former self, and some of the abuse he has received while other under-performers seemingly get off scot-free is frankly disgusting.

I know it’s frustrating to watch at times, but to a point you are stuck with the manager and the players, so back them. Save your discontent for the end of the season come what may.

As fans our input is only vocal but it is important. Don’t let the players be faced with the sound of silence.

Keep the faith.

My Ultimate XI

Dear reader, I’ve no doubt that this will open me up to some criticism and that’s fine, all I ask you is that you make that criticism constructive and debate worthy!

Recently Saints have launched their campaign to find the ‘Ultimate’ Saints XI.

As a fan you are entitled to vote for a Goalkeeper, four defenders, three midfielders, three forwards and a manager. Simple right? Not quite. Only those with 150 plus appearances qualify. That to me is an odd rule. There have undoubtedly been players who made less than that but had more impact than some that did, but anyway, that is their rules and like the submissive man that I am I shall simply take that restriction on the chin and vote while mumbling Dean Richards quietly under my breath.

The beauty of a public poll like this is, that everyone interprets it their own way. For instance I immediately decided I couldn’t vote for those I never saw play.  This was a sub-conscious but clear decision. This is MY Ultimate XI. To me the idea that someone in their 20’s is voting for Mick Mills is a little ludicrous. This is your team, not your Dad’s! But, as it is your team then you are entitled to interpret it however you see fit.

Due to my decision, basically anyone who played for Saints prior to 1986 was basically out. This might seem reckless, but no matter how good they might have been they don’t mean the same to me as they might those who were there at the time. And besides, olden days football was a rubbish standard right? (joke).

Anyway never-mind the reasoning, here is my team:-

This side would of course be managed by Gordon Strachan.

As everybody will think, my team seems self explanatory to me, but I’ll explain it anyway.

Goalkeeper:- Antti Niemi

The Flying Finn, was simply put, a fantastic Goalkeeper, and undoubtedly the best I’ve seen for Saints (even without the 150 appearance rule).  His shot stopping was often spectacular and he was certainly one of those keepers that was worth a few points a season.

Left Back:- Wayne Bridge

Now a star of reality TV, Bridge really was as good as we made out at the time and his further career at Chelsea, Man City and with England goes to prove it. The local lad I watched from debutante to high profile transfer exit. It seems odd to think he is two years younger than me!

Centre Half:- Claus Lundekvam

Our Claus, the Norwegian with a Hampshire twang to his accent was somewhat of an anomaly. It is rare in modern football that somebody earns a testimonial, even rarer when a foreigner does it, but Claus took the city and the club to his heart and backed it up with solid performances.

Centre Half:- Mark Wright

This was the first time when I was selecting where the appearance rule proved a problem. Wright only just sneaks into my own personal criteria, but I have to say the choices in this position weren’t awe inspiring. Wright was a classy ball playing defender, perhaps ahead of his time!

Right Back:- Jason Dodd

For me Dodd was Mr. Dependable. Over 400 games for the club and I don’t remember a bad one. Maybe not the most dynamic right back in the league, but one you could trust and never lost his affinity with the club, even drinking with the fans in Milan last year!

Midfield:- David Armstrong

Largely regarded as one of the most underrated players in English football, though he was recognised internationally. I didn’t worry too much about balance in my team, but I do feel Armstrong is key to that. A tidy midfield player who chipped in with goals.

Midfield:- Morgan Schneiderlin

Like Wayne Bridge, this one has a sense of journey about it. I watched this lightweight French kid who looked useless at first develop into one of the most accomplished midfielders in the Premier League. A defensive midfielder, but so much more, under Pochettino then Koeman he was consistently outstanding.

Free Role:- Matthew Le Tissier

The greatest of all time. Surely there wasn’t anybody who didn’t vote for him, except himself?

Forward:- Danny Wallace

This could easily have gone to Rod, but not Ray. Sorry Ray. Eventually I went for the one with the most goals. Again, I wasn’t looking at balance (but perhaps I was) but with one target man, I wanted my other strikers to be the exciting pacy kind.

Forward:- Rickie Lambert

Had he not continued his fantastic form into the top flight then maybe this position would be filled by a Beattie or a Shearer, but he did. Of course he did. Perhaps the first player to capture the imaginations of Saints fans since Le Tiss. A gentleman, and a great goalscorer.

Forward:- Marian Pahars

 

Impact. Longevity. Talent. The kid from Latvia who dazzled us both with his fantastic ability and his affection for the club. His celebration v Portsmouth still sends shivers down my spine, the man from Riga celebrating like he grew up in Sholing. Some will overlook him, but they would be wrong to, had injuries not hampered him I’ve no doubt he’d be talked in higher regard.

Manager:- Gordon Strachan

I spent more time on this than perhaps on any of the others. There were three periods as a Saints fan I really loved. Under Messrs Strachan, Pochettino and Koeman. Poch didn’t qualify so it was a choice of two. At the end of the day both got us into Europe after prolonged breaks but only one got us to a cup final!

So there it is. Make of it what you will, but please remember, this is MY Ultimate XI, I’m not asking you to change yours. There will be thousands of different combinations, all with great justification but ultimately democracy will decide! I do think the more recent players will win as this is an internet competition for the internet generation, but let it be said, that every nominee in the list deserves our respect and our gratitude for being Saints!

Vote here:- https://southamptonfc.com/news/2017-10-13/southampton-fans-ultimate-xi-sea-city-museum-exhibition

Keep the faith!

Ali Dia: Origins

Let me take you back to the Summer of 1996. It was a different time. Robson & Jerome were stunning us on a regular basis with their reworked classics and we were still the best part of a year away from Tony Blair and Cool Britannia taking the country and turning it on its head. It wasn’t all grim though, England had just put in a credible performance at a major tournament on home soil and were a Gazza boot lace away from a major final. There was an air of optimism, especially for this Isle of Wight student about to embark on a miserable (self-inflicted through lack of effort) A-Level campaign……

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